Leave a legacy to Birkbeck
Gifts left in wills are extremely important to the College: they have a lasting impact and help us to ensure that Birkbeck - its values, its high-quality teaching and its world-class research - will benefit future generations of students. Gifts or bequests to the College also provide otherwise unavailable support to students in financial need.
We know that thinking about remembering Birkbeck in your Will is incredibly personal, and we are grateful to you for considering us.
If you want to find out more, complete this short form, and will contact you.
Does Birkbeck have a charity number?
- Birkbeck is an educational charitable and chartered corporation, exempt under the terms of the Charities Act 1993. Under the Charities Act 2006, universities are supervised by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as principal regulator, who are charged with ensuring that the College fulfil their obligations under Charity Law and therefore, a legacy made in the UK will be exempt from Inheritance Tax.
What wording should I use in my Will?
- Birkbeck’s solicitors suggest the following wording: 'I give to the Governors of Birkbeck College (University of London), incorporated by Royal Charter, of Malet Street, London, WC1, the whole [or__%] of my residuary estate for the general purposes of the College, and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the said College shall be a full and sufficient discharge to my personal representative(s).'
- Or, if you would prefer to include a fixed amount as opposed to a percentage, then the following words are slightly amended to incorporate this: 'I give to the Governors of Birkbeck College (University of London), incorporated by Royal Charter, of Malet Street, London, WC1, the sum of £X for the general purposes of the College, and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the said College shall be a full and sufficient discharge to my personal representative(s).'
- The standard wording refers to the College’s general funds, to ensure that funds are directed where they are most needed at that time. However, if you wish to include a specific department or project please see below.
Is it best to leave a percentage of my estate or a fixed sum as a gift?
- Your personal circumstances may lead you to prefer one form over the other. For instance, if you are unsure of the value of your estate or if you are remembering several family members, friends and other charitable organisations in your Will.
- Should you wish to include a fixed sum, it would be helpful to include a note that results in your gift being index-linked, and so will not suffer a decrease due to inflation over time.
What happens if I want to leave my gift to a specific project rather than for general purposes?
- Should you prefer to remember a specific project or department in your Will, we would ask that you inform us in advance of formalising your Will, in order to ensure that that particular project or educational course is sustainable, and to ensure that the funding is put to the best possible use.
What happens after I’ve included Birkbeck in my Will?
- If you have chosen to remember Birkbeck in your Will, we would be most grateful if you would inform us of your decision, so that we may make a note of your intentions. This will enable us to formally thank and acknowledge you, but will also assist us in planning the College’s financial future.
- You may also wish to send us a copy of your Will, so that we can assist in ensuring your wishes are carried out.
- Please be assured that all information you provide us will be treated in strictest confidence.
What kind of recognition will I receive?
- If you remember Birkbeck in your Will, we will formally recognise your gift and discuss with you the most appropriate manner of recognising your generosity. You will also receive invitations to events at the College.
Can Birkbeck act as the executor of my will?
- Birkbeck would be happy to act as the Executor of your Will, in conjunction with our own solicitors, particularly if the College is the main beneficiary. However, this should not replace the relationship with your own solicitor when drawing up and validating your Will, who will ensure that you receive the best legal advice, appropriate to your needs.
- Please do get in touch if you'd like to discuss this option with us.
Do I really need to contact a solicitor?
- Birkbeck strongly advises you to visit a solicitor when writing your Will.
- You can visit the Law Society websitewhere you can search for qualified solicitors in your area.
- There is also a need to validate the Will by having your witnesses countersign it and this is often better done in the presence of a solicitor.
- Many enquirers have asked about DIY Will-making packs. While these are cheaper than visiting a solicitor, we have been advised that such wills are often a false economy, as even simple Wills must comply with legal formalities and, if you are not familiar with legal terminology, just one mistake could invalidate the whole document. The best advice we can give is that you use a solicitor to draw up the Will. It is worth the expense to have peace of mind knowing that your wishes cannot be misinterpreted.
How much will making a will cost me?
- The solicitor's charges will usually depend on the complexity of your affairs and the time taken to draw up your Will. Don't be afraid to ask for an estimate in advance. A further tip is to prepare before meeting with your solicitor. Ensure that your paperwork is in order and that you have a list of all the possessions that make up your estate. There is a guide on how to estimate this in Birkbeck’s legacy brochure to assist you.
I already have a will. Am I allowed to change it or add to it?
- If the changes you wish to make to your Will are not substantial, you may wish to add an additional sheet containing your new instructions to your existing Will. This is called a codicil - there is an example in the legacy brochure.
- You may use a codicil to update or amend wishes. However, we strongly advise you visit your solicitor when adding a codicil to your Will, to ensure that your new instructions do not contradict or invalidate any earlier wishes.
Am I too young to write a will?
- No matter what your age or situation in life, it is important to make a Will.
- It is also important to regularly review your Will, in accordance with your different life stages.
- If you die without making a Will, all or part of your possessions may go to HMRC - not necessarily to your partner or next of kin.
For further information on any of these issues, please do contact us.